Galway has been designated as a UNESCO City of Film, becoming one of only a handful of cities to achieve the designation worldwide.

The title is awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to recognise an area's contribution to cinema and media production.

A total of 63 cities around the world were shortlisted for City of Film Status, following a two-year campaign.

The Galway submission referenced a rich cinematic tradition in the west, as well as the contribution of several film, television and animation companies that are based there.

However, it was the potential for long-term sustainable development of the sector, in both the city and county, that was central to the success of the bid.

It is estimated that the film and television industry in Co Galway employs in the region of 600 people and generates around €70 million for the local economy each year.

Today's designation has been described as a permanent global legacy.

President Michael D Higgins has congratulated the city and those involved in the bid.

He said: "Galway is such a vibrant city whose people support a wide range of cultural activities and they fully deserve this UNESCO award.

"Galway has a long and proud tradition of supporting various cultural activities, including film.

"This permanent award will undoubtedly raise Galway's worldwide profile as a significant player in the creative sector."